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"Mountain Chapel" by Annette Kennedy, Longmont, Colorado, 2008

As I wandered through the galleries at the National Quilt Museum on Sunday, I was drawn to "Mountain Chapel" by Annette Kennedy. It was inspired by St. Catherine's Chapel in Allenspark, Colorado, which is just up the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway from where I live. No wonder it grabbed my attention. Each time I drive to Estes Park to teach at the Stitchin' Den or hike in Rocky Mountain National Park, I pass this lovely structure, which appears to emerge from the rock beneath it.

Fabulous Freeform table runner by Dana Jones.

Time to Sign Up

Speaking of the Stitchin' Den, I'll be teaching there later this month, and there are still a few spaces for you to register. My "Fabulous Freeform" class will be offered in-person and on Zoom simultaneously. It will meet from 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time Friday, June 24. Kits of the Warehouse District fabric designed by Lesley Tucker Jenison that I used are available from the shop. Register now.

At left, "Making A Point" by Diane Firth. At right, "Blown by the Wind," also by Diane Firth.

Quilts from Down Under

Among the exhibitions at the National Quilt Museum was "Australia Wide Seven" by the ozquilt network. These small quilts were impressive. I especially liked the two above by Diane Firth.

"Blue Grass" by Carolyn Sullivan was lovely. The texture of her hand stitching to create the grass seeds made it appear you could slip them off the stalks to plant. It seemed only fitting to enjoy this quilt after a day of driving through rural Kentucky where references to blue grass are everywhere. In Colorado where I live, many of us don't think much of folks using precious water to have blue-grass lawns, but where the earth is lush and green, the blue grass is wonderful as is this depiction of blue grass Australian-style.

"Blue Grass" by Carolyn Sullivan

In For The Night

After a pleasant 400-mile drive from Paducah across Missouri into Oklahoma — all on Highway 60 through the Ozarks — Emma and I are settled in at the Twin Bridges Area at Grand Lake State Park in northeastern Oklahoma. Tomorrow we'll head across Oklahoma. And tomorrow I hope to share a few more photos from the National Quilt Museum. It's really great they now let you take photos. Just no flash.

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Miles of stopped traffic on I-71 in Kentucky south of Cincinnati, north of Louisville 6.10.2022

I wasn't riding a donkey. I'm not pregnant. But last night or actually very early this morning, I needed a place in the inn — Hampton Inn in this case. There as no room in the inn but the kindly innkeeper took pity on an old lady traveling alone at 3 a.m. with no place to lay her head.

I had a plan when I left Columbus, Ohio, about 5 p.m. last night. I'd drive the four hours from Columbus to Louisville after my final class at Quilt Surface Design Symposium. I'd camp in Louisville, rise early and visit the Sanford Biggers' exhibition at the Speed Art Museum in Louisville. Only problem, four hours became 10 hours. Just into Kentucky south of Cincinnati,

I-71 became a parking lot. Other than a few seconds here and there when we'd inch forward, the traffic — hundreds of cars, campers, semis — was at a standstill.

I'd planned to call quilt bud and amazing friend Janet Bozzone once I was on the road. I called. When she heard my plight, she accompanied me on the phone for hours. She had more luck searching online for information on what the hold up was than I did. The close to seven hours I sat not moving were only tolerable because of her. Thank you, Janet. I owe you big, big time!

Once traffic finally moved — sometime around 2:30 a.m. — I was able to exit for gas pretty soon after passing the semi that had caused the delay. It wasn't clear what had happened. The truck was really messed up. There were several dozen police cars, ambulances, fire trucks, tow trucks and more on the scene. The road was terrible. Wet from the rain. Unusually hydroplane slick. Banked higher on the left side than right around major elevated curves. It was not a fun drive with Emma — my 18-foot camper — in tow. It would not have been a fun drive in a semi. Shoot, it would not have been a fun drive even in a fun-to-drive car.

Finally an exit with hotels. They were full to overflowing. But I lucked into the best Hampton Inn night manager ever. He saw no problem with me parking Emma in the hotel lot and sleeping there. An angel just when I needed one.

I slept soundly and too long into the morning to make my scheduled ticket time at the Speed Art Museum. Instead I headed straight to tonight's destination, a campground near Paducah.

Emma settled in at Birdsville RV Park on the Ohio River.

A Good Day of Driving, A Lovely Campground

When I arrived at Birdsville RV Park, I was warmly greeted by the owners who escorted me to my site, which was an upgrade to a riverfront — the Ohio River that is — site. It's a gorgeous campground with widely spaced sites. I was surprised to find I could barely reach the electrical box, quite different from most campgrounds that require you to get on your knees to plug in. When the owner saw me on tiptoes trying to connect, he laughed and explained the riverfront sites flood from time to time so the electric has to be above flood line. I remembered the year I came to Quilt Week in Paducah when there was massive flooding. The convention center was under water so the show had been moved piecemeal to every available space around the town.

Tonight as I write, I'm hearing an occasional boat pass. The crickets are singing. A dog is barking in the distance. All is right with the world.

My plan is to visit the National Quilt Museum tomorrow then head on west Monday morning. Best laid plans. I guess I'll see what tomorrow actually brings.

Random Thoughts from the Highway

I drove a short distance on I-71 this morning but when traffic backed up as I approached Louisville, I exited. I spent the rest of the day off the interstate with most of the drive on Highway 60, which parallels the northwestern edge of Kentucky, defined by the Ohio River. It was a peaceful, relaxed drive. Here are highlights of a laid back day. I love noticing quirky things as I drive:

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  • I passed a Lustron house. I've always been fascinated by these "modern" homes that are just a bit older than I am. Most I've seen have been yellow. The one today was blue like the one pictured above. They seem to pop up randomly across the country. Years ago when I was in the market for a house, I looked at one. It wasn't for me but my intrigue with them remains.

Wikipedia says of these houses: These prefabricated enameled steel houses were developed post-World War II in response to the shortage of homes for returning G.I.s. They were the brainchild of Chicago industrialist and inventor Carl Strandlund. Considered low-maintenance and durable, they were expected to attract modern families who didn't have the time or interest in repairing and painting conventional wood and plaster houses. Lustron production ceased in 1950 when the company's couldn't pay back the startup loans it had received from the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. More than 2,000 homes were constructed during Lustron's brief production period, and many remain in use today. Several have been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

  • I saw five barn quilts. The most interesting one was a 4-H design on a community building. It wasn't exactly like the one pictured here but was quite similar. Turns out, Kentucky 4-Hers have made dozens of barn quilts. Pretty cool.

I wish it was easier to photograph barn quilts but it usually requires invading private property, not something I can do subtly with Emma in tow.

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  • I filled my gas tank for $4.52 per gallon. It seems a crazy to be excited about getting gas this "cheap" but it was the lowest price I'd seen in days The station attendant was super nice. When she found out my cup was just ice she said, "No charge for that today." Thank you. Little kindnesses are so appreciated.

  • I passed a bargello house. Well that's what I called it. It was made of four colors of bricks that were positioned at diagonals like the pieces in bargello quilts. The house almost looked like it was spinning. Sorry I couldn't get a photo.

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  • I have shed envy. There is no reason I need a shed in my yard but I want one. If you can think of a reason I must have one, let me know. For now, I'll just continue to drool each time I pass an outdoor display area of sheds. One with a porch would be nice. But then again, I have three decks on my house. It's not like I need a place to sit.Yet, a shed with a porch...

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  • Hawg's ass anyone? This in Harned, Kentucky.

  • So what does it take to have a "Congested Area" sign posted? I've always been baffled by this sign appearing on the highway over the Grand Mesa in Colorado. You might pass three or four cars in a 30+ mile stretch.

Today I saw one of these signs posted right before the entrance to the campground where I'm staying.I didn't pass even one car along the five or so miles into the park.

Congested area? Think I-71.

  • Who knew? I kept seeing campaign signs today for candidates for "jailer" or "jailor." I couldn't remember ever voting for a position called jailer. Good reason. I've never lived in Kentucky, and Kentucky is the only state that elects jailers. One website described a jailer's function as follows: "The constitutional duties of a Kentucky jailer are defined within Chapters 71 and 446 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes. All county jailers are "Sworn State Peace Officers" as are their deputies with all rights and responsibilities connected to the power of arrest and other functions of the office."

Say what? Still not sure what they do.

Kentucky’s first constitution made no specific mention of jails or jailers. A provision requiring each county to elect a jailer was adopted in 1850 in the state’s third constitution. Turns out, not every Kentucky county has a jail. That means that there are jailers with no jails to oversee. So I'm still wondering what they do and why they are elected in 2022. If you're from Kentucky, please explain.

  • I'm not going to debate abortion here. I'm clear what I believe and many reading this blog are equally sure of what you believe. That said, I did have to wonder at an anti-abortion sign I passed today. Quoting Scripture and showing a photo of a very pregnant woman, it quoted Scripture: "Come to me all who are heavy laden." Yep. In the last weeks of pregnancy, women are pretty heavy laden. Anybody proof this sign before putting it up?

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Brickwork ©by Dana Jones

Today, Day 4, of my Just Silk Screens class with Pat Pauly, I finally found my stride. While many of my classmates are making prints intended to be whole cloth quilts, I realized I needed to reclaim my love of pattern and piecing. I'm planning a quilt for which I'll need fabric and piecing to create brick and wooden walls. Once I worked to dye fabric with possible images for that quilt, I made work I like better than what I had made on Days 1-3.

The focus at Quilt Surface Design Symposium is exactly what the name says: surface design. It's odd that I've struggled with what that means for almost two weeks. Surface design — dyeing, painting, collaging, beading, embroidering and more — doesn't need stand separate from piecing. A much delayed ah-ha moment.

Detail of Brickworks

I made "Brickworks" by applying soy wax to my silk screen. It was basically drawing. I love drawing lines! Once the wax dried — it only takes a few minutes — I was ready to scrap thickened dye through the screen. I made the lines in some of the bricks with a cheap paint brush, the kind with stiff bristles that tend to separate and streak.

Brickworks made by printing the table

I will add subtle color to the mortar between the bricks, maybe tomorrow or maybe when I get home.

After making my red brick piece, I then printed the screen on the plastic on my table. This is called, quite logically, printing the table. Once you've laid down the image on the table, you can make additional lines, add motifs and more before laying the fabric onto the printed table. I used a tool that's designed for make grooves in tile adhesive to get more lines in some of the bricks, sometimes connecting bricks with my strokes.

The dye tends to develop tiny bubbles while on the plastic. While there are ways to prevent this, I liked the look so encouraged the bubbles to form to give the bricks more texture.

I printed the table piece on fabric I'd scraped with golden yellow and sun yellow dyes earlier in the day.

Clapboards ©by Dana Jone

My next challenge was to create fabric I can use to imply a rough wood exterior of a building. I used hot glue and cardboard to get a raised surface of lines to rub thickened dye over. I thought I wanted smooth lines, something I wasn't able to accomplish with the hot glue. Instead I got the beads you see. Turns out, I think I like that look better.

Working with thickened dyes is a process where it's best not to lock into expectations, especially when learning. You can think you know what the results will be, and you can be determined to get something exactly as you envision it, but you will get something different. You may be disappointed but more often, you'll be pleasantly surprised.

It's best not to discard anything that initially disappoints.

Detail of Clapboards

Aspen Whisper ©by Dana Jones

A Few More Class Experiments

Pat Pauly is a generous teacher who wants her students to learn as many techniques and tools as possible. In that spirit, I decided to try as many of her methods as possible in the time allowed. This approach has proved a good way to decide which processes I like and which work best for me.

I found I can make delicate lines by drawing with Elmer's washable, white school glue on silk screens. "Aspen Whisper" above was my first experiment with this technique. I will definitely use this glue in the future.

Barbed Wire ©by Dana Jones

Unexpected things can happen, some pleasing, some not so much. Earlier in the week, we were asked to create a one color ombre. Mine was green. It was hanging on my design wall as I was cleaning up today. I didn't want to toss the thickened dye that was on my table and would be spent by morning so I grabbed my hot-glue screen and began rubbing my lines onto the ombre with the reddish dye that was no the table.

When the lines were done, it needed something more. That's when I spotted the arrow stencil I'd cut from mylar earlier in the week but not used. By the time my table was clear of dye, this half yard of fabric had emerged. For me, the jury's out on what I think about it. Do you have an opinion?

Turning Toward Home

Quilt 35 (Vex), 2014 by Sanford Biggers

Antique quilt fragments, treated acrylic and tar on antique quilt.

Tomorrow is my last day here in Columbus. I'll head out when class is over. I've done some re-routing from my original plan so I can head to Louisville to see the Sanford Biggers: Codeswitch exhibition at the Speed Art Museum.

More on this and my third and final week of travel coming soon.

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